On the 22nd year of Mining Act of 1995: Youth party backs mining closures, calls for national industrialization

Friday, March 3, 2017

ON THE 22nd anniversary of the Mining Act of 1995, Kabataan Partylist stands with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Gina Lopez’ decision to mark for closure 23 mining contracts operations in the country, and for the suspension of 6 others.

“The call for mine closures is a fierce move against imperialist plunder and an initial relief for our national minorities and peasant communities near watersheds and affected areas,” Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said.

Elago remarked that the mining industry has been long oriented toward foreign export and profit. This extractive nature of the industry has not only destroyed our environment but also the lands and livelihood of our countrymen.

According to IBON Foundation, 97% of mineral extraction in the Philippines goes to foreign industries, supporting other countries’ industrialization and profit instead of being instrumental in the development of local industries. The biggest mining operations are run by companies hailing from the United States, Australia, Canada, Norway, Switzerland and China.

IBON also reported that some of the biggest mining operations are found among provinces with high poverty rates.

Meanwhile, mining contributed to around 0.6-0.7% of the Philippines’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2009-2013.

“Lopez’s stance is admirable in the face of opposition and political demolition being set by transnational mining companies and their neoliberal defenders within the Cabinet,” Elago said.

Finance secretary and Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) co-chairperson Carlos Dominguez said that the DENR orders would cost millions in foregone revenues.

After previously backing Lopez in her bid for mine closures, Duterte vowed to review the order, mentioning that “we get something like 70 billion a year out of the mining operations in the entire Philippines…[and] we should take that into consideration,” a statement whose source is unknown.

“Large-scale mining companies have gone through ad hominems and other dirty tactics in their campaign against Lopez, even using the losses in revenue and employment to cover up their tainted interest,” Elago said. According to labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, mining only contributed 0.5% to the employment in the country, amid the fact that majority of mining workers remain contractual, who can lose their job with or without the closure of these mines.

“They pretend to promote fairness, objectivity and facts but are eerily silent in the political impacts of their operations on our national minorities and their communities,” Elago said.

“Corporate mining operations also entailed heightened military attacks against national minorities and tribes, and state-sponsored land-grabbing which has displaced thousands of people, including Lumad and other minority communities,” Elago said.

Elago recounts the killings of Lumad leader Jimmy Saypan, and anti-mining Lumad activist Anoy Pasaporte of Compostela Valley last year. Last January, Lumad leader Veronico Lapay Delamente was shot by alleged paramilitary elements in the mining town of Claver in Mindanao. The most recent is the killing of a peasant couple, Ramon Dagaas Pesadilla and his wife Leonela, both members of the Compostela Farmers Association, in Compostela Valley.

“While we laud the closure of large-scale foreign-owned mining companies, we know it is just the first step. The next is to set up a nationalist, sustainable mining industry for the people,” Elago said.

Kabataan Partylist calls for the repealing of the Mining Act of 1995, and the reorientation of the mining industry and towards building the foundation for national industrialization.

The youth party also calls on the Filipino youth and people to strongly condemn Duterte’s backtracking of previous promises and to urge Duterte to uphold his pronouncements to stand against the decades-long imperialist plunder in our country’s lands.

“We call on the Filipino youth, scientists, engineers and professionals to struggle for their just demands for national industrialization, and a mining industry that stands for the people’s interests,” Elago concluded. ###

(photo credit: Agham Youth)